Words by Dean Jones
All photos by Pierre Rommelaere Photography
Murphy’s Law is an awful thing. For months I was planning for this festival. I don’t often do three-day events anymore because I simply haven’t maintained the party stamina that I used to have in my adolescent years. But for Endless Daze I was willing to make an exception. Unfortunately though, on Friday morning (day-one of the festival) my plans took an unexpected turn as I woke up with a sore throat and burning sinuses. Annoyed as I was, I took it upon myself to try and get (at least) slightly better so that I could still make it for Saturday’s festivities. So, after excessive use of Corenza C and countless Hot Toddies, I managed to pull myself out of bed the following morning. Here is how it went down…
Luckily the weather was on my side, which made for a pleasant and scenic drive to Silwerstroom Resort just off the coast of Atlantis. The venue was as picturesque as it gets. With rolling dunes, expansive bush and miles of blue ocean, the setting itself was enough to lift our moods and get us ready for the day ahead. After setting up my tent I swiftly made my way through to the main dance-floor. It was clear that the previous night was a good one, as most people still seemed to be comfortably tucked away in their sleeping bags. However, as the music began to emerge again so did most of the campers.
First up was Twin Weaver, a young but mature-sounding band whose dreamy soundscapes and soothing, raspy vocals made for the perfect start to the afternoon. Unlike most other festivals, the dance-floor at this time was already filling up nicely as people pulled in for their first meals and drinks of the day. Already I could feel that I was in for a very different experience to what I was used to. Along the way I bumped into some familiar faces, all of whom commented on how great the previous night was and also how great a platform the event was for young bands (like Twin Weaver) to showcase their talents. Thereafter it was The Thirty Eights who took over with their Dick Dale-esque instrumental surfer rock flair. Keeping the energy high, five-piece band Runaway Nuns were responsible for filling the floor up further as the atmosphere of the festival started to become more palpable. Thereafter, The Tazers shifted things into a more grungy gear. As a three-piece, their sound was impactful albeit lo-fi and textural.
With vintage rock revival the clear direction of the afternoon’s musical trajectory, it was The Sunflowers who took an unexpected turn. All the way from Portugal, the duo slapped the crowd around with big sound and strange, esoteric experimentation. Although they may have lost the attention of some listeners, it was a welcome break from the somewhat similar direction of the previous acts and a treat for those with a more informed taste.
After an intense few hours, it was Amy Ayanda and her band that soothed the body and mind as the sun began to set. Dreamy, honest and quirky, the combination of restrained live instrumentation with subtle electronica and lush vocals left the crowd begging for more. Although the band is still fresh on the live circuit, they proved just why they occupied such a sought after time slot – and hearing comments from the crowd like ‘…they are like the South African Florence and the Machine’ simply reaffirms that.
Thereafter it was business as usual from The Deathrettes. Guiding the audience back into the ‘garagey’ sounds earlier in the day, their performance was solid, whilst the incorporation of visuals added to the experience. However, I simply could not contain myself for the Blk Jks. It had been many years since I had seen them play, and as one of the local bands that I was obsessed with in my high-school years, I was ready to get taken on a trip down memory lane. From the second they took to the stage they effortlessly commanded the attention of the audience. With stellar musicianship and infectious groove and rhythm, their style has something for everyone to appreciate. Their unique blend of afro-beat and progressive rock is really something to behold and was clearly valued by those who had the privilege to witness it. I truly hope it won’t be such a long wait until I am able to watch them perform again.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, up stepped Thee Oh Sees. Not much needs to be said about this band. Highly regarded for their atomic energy and amazing live act, on Saturday night they proved why they are one of the best in the genre. John Dwyer’s guitar tone is something to behold, and paired with a precise and powerful drum and bass section the combination of sounds coming out of the PA was truly remarkable. Whilst many other bands tend to fall more formulaic riffs and rhythms, Thee Oh Sees break every mold to produce something that is truly unique and unforgettable. They effortlessly performed songs from their latest album ‘Orc’, but also didn’t shy away from some older material. From long, twisted jams, to short, effective hardcore and punk-driven belters it was impossible not to be moved by the performance!
For those who still had the energy, the After Hours DJs kept hips moving until the early hours of the morning – but for me, it was time for bed after a satisfying day. All round, the festival exceeded expectations and proved that Cape Town isn’t just a one-trick-pony. Although it is undeniable that the electronic scene dominates most of the city’s festival calendar, there is a clear gap for events such as Endless Daze to gain quick momentum. Even though it is still somewhat ‘boutique’ in comparison to most other events, it was evident that there were more than enough people who were deeply fascinated by and interested in what Psych Night brings to the table. The reality is, even if you are not the biggest fan of live music, the energy and vibe that a festival like this produces is enough reason to give it a try – in addition to the fact that it is simply something different to the norm. Going forward I think it be great to see a bit more racial and social diversity in the line-up and crowd, but I think that will come as the brand develops. For example, the inclusion of the Blk Jks proved just how vital is it to have such artists on board. Not only does it throw a curveball in the line-up, but it also encourages people to broaden their scope and realize the (predominantly dormant) potential of our country’s music scene. As Mpumelelo Mcata (Blk Jks lead singer/guitarist) said towards the end of their performance ‘…well, if you are confused… welcome to Africa!’. Regardless, this festival was a great step forward for the local live music scene, and I have no doubt that it is going to grow exponentially in years to come!